White House Lashes Out at Congress Over 'Partisan' Solyndra Investigation

Fred Lucas | November 10, 2011 | 5:13pm EST
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An auction sign is shown at bankrupt Solyndra headquarters in Fremont, Calif., Monday, Oct. 31, 2011 before Wednesday's auction. Solyndra received a one half billion dollar loan guarantee from the government before filing for bankruptcy in Sept. 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(CNSNews.com) – A day after newly released e-mails surfaced regarding an Obama donor’s role in asking for a second Solyndra loan, the White House agreed to provide subpoenaed material to the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- but not without a jab.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the House probe into the $535-million federal loan to the solar panel firm "partisan." Solyndra is now bankrupt and under FBI investigation.

“We have been enormously cooperative with legitimate oversight. In this investigation alone we’ve turned over 85,000 pages of documents,” Carney told reporters Thursday. “We will continue to cooperate with this committee in their investigation. With regards to the subpoena, I don’t have anything to announce. But, I can say, as the White House counsel made clear in her letter, the subpoena was over-broad, unnecessary and in my words, if something seems partisan, it probably is.”

Thursday afternoon, while the White House press briefing was going on, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released a statement from committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.)

“This morning, the White House Counsel’s Office informed the committee that it plans to begin providing responsive materials to the committee's subpoena,” the statement from Upton and Stearns said.

“As we have said before, we stand ready to work with the White House on its document production and believe it is entirely possible for the White House to produce information for an investigation that the White House Counsel herself has acknowledged is both legitimate and necessary,” the statement said.

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We remain hopeful that the White House will demonstrate some good faith efforts of compliance and provide the internal Solyndra-related communications we have been seeking,” it added.

Put in context, the $535 million loan is more than 35 states get each year in highway money, said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) during a Senate floor speech on Thursday.

“Solyndra went bankrupt recently, and $500 million is still a considerable amount of money. I’ll put that in perspective,” Paul said. “In Kentucky, we get about $420 million to pave our roads annually out of the gas tax that you pay. Thirty-five states get about the same amount, somewhere under $500 million.

“Yet the president saw fit, because he’s been consumed with this environmental extremism, he saw fit to give $500 million – more than 35 states get for their highway funds – he saw fit to take that money and give it to one political contributor because he has decided that he wants more expensive electricity,” Paul continued. “He wants electricity that comes and is produced by people who are his campaign contributors.”

The committee released e-mails the committee obtained through major investors for Solyndra. The e-mails seemingly contradict assertions by the White House that Obama bundler George Kaiser, an Oklahoma businessman, never talked about Solyndra to White House officials.

He in fact talked to White House officials about a second loan for the California company. A second loan was not approved. However, the Department of Energy did provide a $75 million restructuring deal for Solyndra that allowed private investors to be paid back before taxpayers.

Kaiser, an Oklahoma billionaire, raised between $50,000 and $100,000 for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, according to the Associated Press. Kaiser was also a frequent White House visitor in 2009 and 2010. White House officials for months have denied that Kaiser talked about Solyndra during those visits.

In one email, Kaiser said when he and an associate visited the White House last year, officials showed “thorough knowledge of the Solyndra story, suggesting it was one their prime poster children.”

Another e-mail said, “They about had an orgasm in Biden’s office when we mentioned Solyndra,” from George Kaiser Family Foundation head Ken Levit to Steve Mitchell, managing director of Kaiser's venture-capital firm, Argonaut Private Equity.

Mitchell wrote in a March 5, 2010 e-mail, “It appears things are headed in the right direction and [Energy Secretary Steven] Chu is apparently staying involved in Solyndra's application and continues to talk up the company as a success story.”

Carney said the documents were just cherry picked, which proves the entire matter is partisan.

“There was no political influence in the decision-making process,” Carney said. “The meeting they are referring to, as I’m sure that you are aware, took place almost a year after the loan was approved. We are now 85,000 pages into this process, nine committee staff briefings, four congressional hearings. The investors released their documents, and this is what the Republicans can talk about.”

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